For most people, losing a pet is incredibly painful. As pet professionals, if you can help your clients prepare for the loss of a pet, this can make saying goodbye a little easier.
Of course, despite all the will in the world, no one is ever really ready to say farewell to a beloved pet. However, there are a few considered actions pet parents can take to mentally and emotionally prepare themselves.
It is these actions that pet professionals can discuss with their clients to assist them in coping with the death of their fur pal.
5 ways to prepare for the loss of a pet
One thing that’s for certain, ignoring emotions and fear over the loss of a pet is not a good coping mechanism. This behaviour is likely to negatively affect your client’s own wellbeing. So, as caring and empathetic professionals, it’s important to allow your client time to talk.
Some people who are facing the loss of a pet don’t even realise they are harboring pain deep inside. Perhaps they frequently tell themselves they are fine. Maybe they promptly push away any sadness or fear.
By providing clients with the opportunity to talk, you can help them come to terms with their feelings, as well as any concerns they might have.
Opening up the conversation is the only way you can then discuss what actions clients might take to help them prepare for the loss of a pet. Here are a few ways owners can prepare for pet loss.
1. Encourage acceptance
Even before the loss of a pet, an owner can experience intense sadness, grief, anger, or even fear over how they will cope in the future. These feelings may be unexpected, so always enquire as to how your client is feeling. Also, help them to accept their feelings by explaining that they are completely normal.
If the pet is terminally ill, your client may find it demanding to care for their furry friend. Administering medicine multiple times a day and assisting an animal to go to the toilet and move around can be physically demanding and emotionally draining. Help your client to recognise the stress they are under, as this might help them to address it.
2. Reflect and reminisce
Companion animals give us pet owners and pet professionals much joy and many fond memories. By sharing and reflecting on the loving memories of the pet you have, you are reminding your client of all the joy they have had over the years. This, in itself, can be useful in helping clients cope with the impending loss of a pet.
3. Discuss the importance of self-care
Losing anyone who is close to us is hard. It can take years until you feel yourself again and during this time it’s important to take good care of yourself.
Encourage your clients to consider their own wellbeing and to incorporate some self-care principles into their lives. This includes getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy and nutritious diet, limiting alcohol and smoking, and making an effort to do things they enjoy. This might be going out with friends, cooking at home, or even getting some retail therapy. Remind your clients how important it is to keep smiling and laughing and to not feel guilty about doing so.
4. Help them to live in the now
Encourage your clients to make the most of the time they have left with their much-loved fur friend. Even if the pet is unwell or requires medication, suggest the owner sets aside time when they are not administering medication or assisting their pet to ‘just be’ with the four-legged friend.
If the pet can still move around, perhaps the owner can take them for a walk to a place they know their pet loves. It’s really important for the owner to make the most of the wonderful moments they have left with their pet. These are likely to turn into beautiful and cherished memories.
5. Assist them to plan a memorable goodbye
Indeed, saying goodbye to a companion animal is one of the hardest things any pet owner ever has to do. Yet, by taking some time beforehand to plan how they might bid their best buddy farewell, they can make it a beautiful and memorable ceremony.
You might be able to support your client by helping them to understand the after-life options available to them. Do they fully understand the ins and outs of pet burial versus pet cremation? Assisting your client to consider the options while their pet is still alive can make dealing with pet loss easier. Of course, some owners will not wish to discuss, let alone think about, these things, so tread carefully.
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